MAN UP (2015)

Genre: Comedy/Drama
Director: Ben Palmer
Cast: Simon Pegg, Ophelia Lovibond, Lake Bell, Ken Stott, Olivia Williams, Rory Kinnear
RunTime: 1 hr 28 mins
Rating: NC16 (Sexual References And Some Coarse Language)
Released By: Shaw
Official Website: 

Opening Day: 4 June 2014

Synopsis: Meet Nancy (Lake Bell): 34, single, hung-over, and exhausted by her well meaning but clueless friends’ continual matchmaking. 10 times bitten, 100 times shy, after an especially disastrous set-up at her friends’ engagement party, Nancy is basically done with dating. She’s reached the end of her rope, and is more than happy to hole up, seal up, and resign herself to a life alone. That is until Jack (Simon Pegg) mistakes Nancy for his blind date under the clock at Waterloo Station, and she does the unthinkable and just… goes with it. Because what if pretending to be someone else finally makes her man up, and become her painfully honest, awesomely unconventional, and slightly unstable true self?

Movie Review:

This reviewer doesn’t know how else to put this across in a less embarrassing way, but there was a moment in this Ben Palmer directed comedy that struck him in such a poignant way, he felt like breaking down immediately. Somewhere two thirds into the film, the male protagonist played by the always reliable Simon Pegg was seen crying in a toilet cubicle. And yes, you’ve guessed it right, this writer went through that (and gasp, recently!) to emphatise the crushing experience one must have felt (yup, it’s the male ego we’re talking about here as well) in that claustrophobic space.

And that is why this British movie spoke to this columnist. The story, though somewhat seems like a deliberate attempt to be cheeky, is something that may actually happen in real life: No thanks to a self help book, a 34 year old woman goes on a blind date with a 40 year old divorcee. Yes, you’ve guessed it right – the girl is overdue for a relationship, and definitely overdue for settling down. And then we have the guy who thought he had it all with a marriage and a job (as an online marketing manager, how apt!). But alas, as fate would have it, his seemingly picture perfect life fell apart when he found out that his wife was cheating on him.

This movie could easily have been a tearjerking melodrama, but because it is B-R-I-T-S-H, the approach just seems, well, classier. You can definitely tell this apart from an American production, where everything falls nicely in place – both literally and figuratively. Here, thanks to Palmer’s (The Inbetweeners Movie) direction, characters are identifiable by the most vulnerable souls in real life.

Lake Bell (It’s Complicated, Mr Peabody & Sherman) takes on the role of a girl who may be too cynical for her own good (it’s what life serves you when you hit mid 30s, apparently), and while you wish she can snap out of her negativity, you also wish that she gets a good man at the end of the day. After all, she’s not someone mean spirited.

Then we have Pegg (Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, The World’s End), who is totally engaging as a man who is earnestly seeking a life like everyone else, but unfortunately experiences some hard knocks at what seems like his mid life stage. How can anyone, even if you have the strongest will, not feel like having a good cry in the toilet alone at some point in time?

The relatable characterisations of these two people are what makes this movie work. Adding to the viewer’s enjoyment is how the two stars have a genuinely likeable chemistry on screen. Of course, we are not forgetting the humour. If you have watched enough British comedies, you’ll love the jokes written for this 88 minute movie.

Above all, there is an honesty to this movie that will have you reflect on what relationships are all about amidst the delightful humour. Now let this reviewer continue to wonder whether there is a happy ending for him at the end of the road, like the lovely couple in the movie (you weren’t expecting them to be separated, were you?)

Movie Rating:

(A thoroughly enjoyable romantic comedy from start to finish, this highly recommended British production also makes you reflect on the finer aspects of being in a relationship)

Review by John Li

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